[This is the second post sent in by Shelley Marcus, a master's student at the UNC Gillings School of Public Health. She is interning over the summer in Rajasthan, India at the NGO GRAVIS with fellow master's student, Robert Wallace ]
Last week I was able to visit an anganwandi center in Jodhpur. Aganwandi centers are preschool/developmental programs for children ages 3-6 years old, living in the slum areas of the city. In addition to educational and social programs, children at aganwandi centers receive a weekly package of fortified grains.
The center that I went to visit served 20 children and each day they were given breakfast which consisted of dry food (mostly carbohydrates) and lunch which was fresh, hot food. There were plenty of toys to play with and good learning materials, such as a diagram of the body, fruits and vegetables and story books.
I was impressed to see that most of the children looked healthy and happy. The young girls said that they liked the packs of food and told me about all the nutrients that were in the bags:
850 grams total
18-20 gm protein
15 mg iron
300 mg Vit A
500 mg calcium
.6 mg Thiamin
.65 mg riboflavin
7 mg niacin
20 mg Vit C
20 mg Folic Acid
There is also a nurse that comes to the anganwandi center once a month to take the kids weight and height and she records it on WHO growth charts. One of the ladies that works at the center does home visits in order to check on the children that are younger than 3 years old. She said that it is common to see under nourished infants and she makes sure to refer them to the correct facilities for treatment.
There are certainly many improvements that could be made with this government scheme, but it is encouraging to see that the government is making some strides to address children’s nutrition.
Unfortunately, due to lack of funding and infrastructure, there are many weeks when children do not receive any food. It is a big struggle for slum children to find other ways to access food and some of them may go days until another proper meal.
To read more about Shelley and Robert’s summer work, read their blog.
To read Robert’s last GH Notes blog post, click here.To view Shelley’s last post, click here.